On February 21, the New Orleans City Council voted 4-1 to approve a proposal for a new $210 million power plant, according to the Times-Picayune. However, new information that is surfacing shows that the council may have been swayed by paid actors. The Lens reported that they procured interviews and verified information that prove that many of the attendees at hearings were not regular community members, but were rather freelance actors and actresses. These actors were prepped to present the power plant in a positive light and were paid according to their involvement.
The pay for the actors ranged from around $60 for each time they attended a city council meeting wearing an orange shirt. The shirts had a slogan on them, which said “Clean Energy. Good Jobs. Reliable Power.” Anyone who delivered a prepared speech was paid much more, around $200.
The two known organizers behind the paid actors are Garrett Wilkerson and Daniel Taylor. In the Facebook ads soliciting actors, Wilkerson said he worked for a company called Crowds on Demand, which provides any type of event with a crowd of people. The ads were for “60-200 dollarydoos to help with a gig for ~3 hours.”
All the actors were asked to sign a nondisclosure agreement before they were allowed to learn more about the gig. And rather than say that the actors were going to be used to heavily sway the council, the actors were told, “the council already supports it, this is mostly just to show them that the citizens don’t have a problem with it.”
Actors were given talking points to memorize, speeches to recite, and most of all, were told to show up early in order to fill up the room. This meant that any actual concerned member of the community would be left out of the meeting due to there not being enough room.
Some caught onto the conspiracy after a while, but nothing was done to stop the paid actors from continuing to attend meetings. And many of the actors did not know who was being paid and who was actually there in earnest, but many said they recognized fellow actors from the community at the meetings.
Meanwhile, Entregy has denied that they paid actors to attend any of the meetings. However, many people believe there is a small chance that it was someone other than Entregy that was behind the paid actors.